Friday, April 24, 2009

You know you're feeling good when...

I've seen a very entertaining phenomenon, and it is a little like sweet and sour sauce.

When we pull dogs from the shelter, as I've mentioned before, they come with a lot of baggage. Usually it is the assorted ticks, fleas, and worms. Even the occasional heartworms. But sometimes we get poor, itchy souls with mange. Most of the time a dip or two, some benzoyl peroxide shampoo, and a little Benadryl does the trick. This time we got two special cases.

For months we have have fostered Phoebe, a very sweet, rather laid back and smallish Siberian Husky, B/W with brown eyes. Very smart girl. She has Demodex mange, which is the non-contagious type. We have done dips, shampoos, antibiotics, special oils, and several special diets - even dosing her with Ivermec. All to no avail, she just is not responding. We took her for a second opinion, and upped her Ivermec and Benadryl, and now she seems to be making a little progress. Aida soaks each of her feet in Epsom salt solution for five minutes twice a day to clean up the nastiness that has grown between her foot pads. Poor girl, but she is showing signs of recovery.

At least Phoebe has most of a coat, as short and thin as it is. Our second girl is Dyani. I drove halfway to the coast to meet her and take her home. She was taken from her owner as a neglect case. Oh my, what a site. And smell. She was eaten up with demodex mange, with open sores scratched raw all over her body. She was actively bleeding from multiple spots! I could see that she is a woolly husky, the type that is really fluffy - just like my first Husky, Kiko.

Dyani is a sweet girl, but she was very afraid of new people, especially men. She did well enough in the car ride, but did not want to have anything to do with me. A few trips to the vet and the bathtub later she was doing better, but you could tell she was just not comfortable.

Our favorite groomer, Susan ( came out and shaved Dyani down so just the fur on her head is left. Really silly looking. But it got the air onto her wounds. By the next day, she looked 100% better, and her wounds all closed up in no time at all.

Unlike Phoebe, Dyani is responding to her treatment VERY well. You know you feel good when...

Which leads me to the phenomenon I've seen. When we bring in an ill, scratchy, unhappy dog, they tend to be sullen and low-energy. Then, after some treament and socialization, they "wake up" - life is GOOD! They don't just feel better, they smile, they dance, they run, they jump, they play like they never have before. It is such a joy to see them loving life.

You know they're feeling good when they jump onto the bed at 2:00 AM to play. I AM NOT FEELING GOOD - but she is. What's a little sleep among friends? Aye, that's the sweet and sour of it.

Dyani is feeling GOOD. Jumpy silly playing spinny howly good. At 2:00 AM. Two nights in a row. Time to set her biological clock back to doggy standard time. And grow that wooly coat back out!

A Barrel Roll, and an Inverted Loop

Who needs roller coasters when you work with a dog rescue?!

Just days after our last baby passed over the Rainbow Bridge, we were taken for another emotional ride. It was a gorgeous day at Regency Park in the Koka Booth Amphitheater for the Rocks 4 Pets event, with good foot traffic, lots of great volunteers, and (sorry) some pretty lousy music. We had Einstein there with other pups, and naturally the puppies were getting lots of attention.

That is when we notices that Einstein was in trouble. Let me tell you about Einstein. We took in a pregnant girl who had a litter of pups just over two months ago. Deanne named them all after scientists - Sagan, Halley, Einstein, etc. Several of them had some medical issues, mostly cleft palettes. But Einstein had about as bad a heart murmur as you can have, a grade 5 or 6. In addition, he had a rather large and prominent abdominal hernia. We've been watching him and waiting for the day when we would have to decide about what to do.

Well, Einstein decided for us. While at the event, the hernia ruptured. Deanne and Aida found the on-site vet who bandaged him up and advised that he needed attention at a qualified vet facility. They rushed him to the NC State Vet School Hospital, and they checked him over. Preliminary evaluation was that we were looking at thousands of dollars. Should we spend THAT kind of money on just one puppy, when we don't even know whether he'll have a long life, or even a quality life? That much money is a whole fund-raising event itself!

The vets ran an echocardiogram, and gave us interesting news. His murmur came from two defects: a hole between two parts of his heart, and a narrowed aortic valve. The interesting thing is that these offset each other - the reduced flow from the valve was offset by the increased flow from the hole. Not ideal, but not life threatening, yet.

The hernia was mostly fat tissue, and when they did the repairs, they saw that the rest of his abdomin was in great shape. Good news!

So, Einstein recovered very quickly, and is a happy, playful pup. They even neutered him while he was under. The hole in his heart might close up by itself, in which case we will have to repair the valve. But the vets says he could live a long, happy life.

Oh, and those cleft palettes? They're all closing up on their own, no surgery required, and practically no risk to the pups.

All in all, an up day. Now to go plan some more fund raising... We have a $2700 bill to pay. If you would like to help, please consider going to our web site at and making a contribution through PayPal. Thank you in advance!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Good Days, Bad Days

Being a Dog Rescuer has its good days, and its bad days. Today we participated in the largest Wake County SPCA Dog Walk event in their history (ten years, I think). It is always a busy event, but this year's was non-stop. We had puppies there, so we were VERY popular! At least half a dozen good volunteers (and a few of their very helpful children) were kept hopping, answering questions, walking dogs, playing with puppies, and answering more questions. We will likely be deluged with applications tonight. Sunny, slight breeze, 75 degrees, and good company, we could not ask for better.

We came home to find the last of Patience's pups feeling cool, and mewing. Aida warmed her up, put her over the Vick's Vap-o-fluid pot, and despaired. She passed in my arms not twenty minutes later. Zero for six. I am so sorry, Patience. We could not have tried harder. We still don't know what this was, but Faythe will help us find the answer with her necropsy.

Good days. Bad days. Sometimes all in the same day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Deck is Stacked

It's hard to find the words to describe what I am feeling right now. Pain. Intense Sadness. Anxiety. Concession. Frustration. Anger.

We know that coming into this, the deck is stacked against us. Rescued dogs comes with baggage, at least most of the time. They're usually not well fed, full of worms, maybe even heartworms, covered in fleas and ticks, and with little or no socialization. Even the owner turn-ins can be this way - we just took in a husky that was taken from its owner, and you would be sickened to see her fur and raw exposed skin, even bleeding in places.

This is doubly true when we take in pregnant dogs. They are usually malnourished and loaded with worms. We have to be careful what meds we can give, so we do not endanger the pups. The pups have the deck stacked against them from the start. Even if mom is making enough milk, it often is not as nutritious as it could be, should be. They have an uphill climb.

Patience is a sweetheart. Four weeks ago she gave birth to six pups. Tonight, the fifth one died. In my arms. He literally drowned, because his lungs are swollen shut, just like his sister before him. He could no longer breathe. I spent 40 minutes giving mouth-to-mouth to him, hoping to open his lungs enough that he could breathe again on his own. God knows he tried. There just was nowhere for the air to go. I could not even get his lungs to inflate. I cheered him on, encouraged him to fight, to pull in that air. I cried. I listened for his heartbeat - still there, but getting weaker. I blew some more, hoping and praying.

It just was not enough.

We don't even know for sure what is wrong. They have enough Clavamox in them to kill any bacterial infection. The vet is sure that a virus cannot cause problems this severe. He believes that it is likely roundworm larvae migration that is causing severe inflammation of the lungs, making it difficult, ultimately impossible, for the pups to breathe. We dosed them with Ivermectin yesterday. If it was the right move, it was too little too late for pup #5.

It's hard to find the words. Sad, definitely. Pained. Anxious for the viability of the last pup. Frustrated that all of our efforts are not keeping these pups alive. Angry that - that - I don't know. That it's just not fair. Conceding that the deck was stacked against us from the start.

Yet we will not stop. We will not even hesitate. We will do everything we can reasonably do to continue to save puppies' and dogs' lives. It is what we do. It is what we love.

Rest in peace, dear pups.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Welcome to Rescued by Pawfect Match!

Rescued by Pawfect Match! The Blog

She was hot. OMG hot. Soft red hair, tall and thin, stunning curves. The startling blue eyes did me in. I was smitten. And I took her home to my place.

Her name is Meg, and we've been together four years now. Actually, Meg is short for Nutmeg (AKA Nuts, Nutters, Megs, Meggers), and she is one of my four Siberian Huskies. She's the mischievous one. Nutters and I want to tell you about Dog Rescues, The Reality Show that plays out in thousands of locations across the country every day.

Every year, about 2.5 million dogs and 1.5 million cats are euthanized in shelters and animal control facilities across America. Some are strays, some are owner turn-ins, and some are even born there. Why? Because too many people do not spay or neuter their pets, among other reasons.

Dog Rescue organizations across the country take in dogs and find them new homes. Most do not have a facility, but have volunteers who foster the dogs until they can find their new “forever home”. Nearly all are not-for-profit, and most who are not simply don’t have the funds to get the 501(c)3 certification. All of them have volunteers dedicated to saving the lives of lost and abandoned dogs by pulling them from shelters and finding them a new home. It is hard but rewarding work.

Why me? Well, I am the co-founder and Chairman of Pawfect Match Rescue, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to matching rescued dogs with adopting families. We celebrated our 3rd anniversary in February, having saved nearly 700 lives so far. You can check us out at We have nearly 50 dogs waiting for their new forever home. Beyond that, I’ve done dog training, rescuing, and therapy work for almost ten years.

Next time, I will tell about a day in the life of a Dog Rescuer. Have a topic you want covered? Tell me.